Why now?

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Why now?

Postby DjVortex » Fri Mar 30, 2012 6:57 am

I don't know if it's just because I'm more aware of things happening in the United States today than I was 10 or 20 years ago, but I nevertheless get the impression that the "war on reason" has escalated in the past 5 years or so to almost unprecedented levels.

20 years ago it was basically a political suicide for a politician to start loudly spouting religious fundamentalism. It would have driven away all the voters of competing denominations. Nowadays it seems to be the exact opposite: It would be a political suicide not to.

20 years ago there was no big war against evolution, skepticism and atheism. Sure, there has always been such a thing in one way or another for as long as those things have existed, but 20 years ago it was a minor, inconsequential little silliness performed by some preachers behind their pulpits. Nowadays they are a loud mainstream. Nowadays you get major TV celebrities and newscasters spouting anti-scientific nonsense loudly and proudly on prime-time TV. Nowadays religious groups are heavily pressuring politicians to introduce the nonsense into the government and classrooms, and in many cases even succeeding at that.

But why now? What's so different today compared to 20 years ago?

Is it the economic crisis? When people feel insecure for their future, when it seems like the world is going down the drain, do people more eagerly turn to fairytales and myths for help?
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Re: Why now?

Postby Lausten » Fri Mar 30, 2012 1:05 pm

Well, according to this study, you are definitely right about the change in attitude
http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fcosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com%2F_news%2F2012%2F03%2F29%2F10911111-study-tracks-how-conservatives-lost-their-faith-in-science&h=sAQEAydt9
The explanation is lot more difficult. Mooney's book mentioned in the article tries to explain that, and there have been some CFI interviews on that too. There is another similar book by Haidt. It gets into nature/nurture discussions, and when those mix with politics, are very volatile. It will be very difficult to use science to explain that people aren't accepting science.

One thing that complicates it, as mentioned in the article, they aren't just stupid. Actually, if you are educated, and hold a position counter to the consensus, it seems you use that education to back up your counter argument instead of using it to examine the evidence. At the bottom, Mooney makes an interesting observation about liberals (like me). We tend to believe that if people used critical thinking they would arrive at conclusions more like ours. Critical thinking is still the right way to go, but we have to be careful about pre-deciding what conclusions it will lead to.
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Re: Why now?

Postby DjVortex » Fri Mar 30, 2012 3:50 pm

I suppose that the people with anti-science attitudes are still a minority even in the US (even though a very vocal minority). Let's hope it stays that way.

It's ironic and sad how these people decry science, while at the same time enjoying its achievements (such as driving expensive cars, living in expensive homes with running water, electricity, consumer electronics, the internet, being able to buy inexpensive and clean food from the local store, and so on). They take these luxuries for granted, while at the same time biting the hand that feeds them (in this case science, which is what provides them with all those luxuries).

Some of these people go so far as stopping their children from going to school because "they teach satanic religions there, like evolution", because of "science is always changing and they can't make up their minds" and so on, while brainwashing their children at home to believe all the typical nonsense (such as evolution being false, the universe being 6 thousand years old, the climate change being just a huge conspiracy and so on) and to hate science. If these people became the majority, the US would collapse scientifically, economically and culturally, and would basically become a third-world country.

A third-world theocracy with nukes.

Scary prospect.
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Re: Why now?

Postby Apate » Fri Mar 30, 2012 9:19 pm

DjVortex wrote:I don't know if it's just because I'm more aware of things happening in the United States today than I was 10 or 20 years ago, but I nevertheless get the impression that the "war on reason" has escalated in the past 5 years or so to almost unprecedented levels.

20 years ago it was basically a political suicide for a politician to start loudly spouting religious fundamentalism. It would have driven away all the voters of competing denominations. Nowadays it seems to be the exact opposite: It would be a political suicide not to.

20 years ago there was no big war against evolution, skepticism and atheism. Sure, there has always been such a thing in one way or another for as long as those things have existed, but 20 years ago it was a minor, inconsequential little silliness performed by some preachers behind their pulpits. Nowadays they are a loud mainstream. Nowadays you get major TV celebrities and newscasters spouting anti-scientific nonsense loudly and proudly on prime-time TV. Nowadays religious groups are heavily pressuring politicians to introduce the nonsense into the government and classrooms, and in many cases even succeeding at that.

But why now? What's so different today compared to 20 years ago?

Is it the economic crisis? When people feel insecure for their future, when it seems like the world is going down the drain, do people more eagerly turn to fairytales and myths for help?


DJ... People who believe in fairytales and myths are harmless compared to those who claim they have the reasonable position and use elected office to force others into the same position .

Let's remember that the crazy tea party people who ran for the Republican nomination have already been eliminated by the the voting Republicans . Scarier is the fact that nobody on the Democratic side will question the leadership they have which of course is based on reason :roll:
Understanding is a three edged sword: your side, their side, and the truth .
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Re: Why now?

Postby Lausten » Sun Apr 01, 2012 3:09 pm

Scarier is the fact that nobody on the Democratic side will question the leadership they have which of course is based on reason

Not sure I'm getting your sarcasm. My observation is that Democrats are pretty good at criticizing their own. As anecdotal evidence, The Smothers Brothers made jokes about Kennedy and Jon Stewart applies the same kind of analysis to Obama as he does to Republicans. I rarely see Limbaugh or O'Reilly doing that, if ever.
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